Blake besides the fact that I have published you in MiPOesias. OCHO, O&S and also painted your portrait, why do you think I picked you out of a select few poets to interview here at the BAP blog?
Hi Didi, that is a good question, and one that crossed my mind for asking you. You are a nice person, and maybe you are interested in talking about a person who would likely not have been in this forum otherwise? I am often not as active in the public-affirmed 'poetry' spheres. I probably don't think of myself as a poet, though I do think that my writing, prose or otherwise, is more concerned with the concerns of poetry than of prose: that being language and syntax over story. Whatever your reason, I am very happy to be given such an opportunity. Hopefully I won't make a mess: or maybe you invited me for my tendency to make text messes? It's my favorite form. :)
Well yes mostly the reasons you mention but mostly there is one reason which you did not mention and that is that you too are a publisher/editor and in my opinion your publications feature some of the hottest new voices out there right now - writers that otherwise may not be noticed at all if you had not selected their work. You are doing crazy things with words Blake Butler. What do you look for when you read a submission?
That is a high compliment, Didi. I feel really blessed everyday to be surrounded by people who I think truly are making the new word. I consider it an honor of the highest order to be allowed to help spread these voices and these minds, and that you think I am doing a reasonably respectable job is wonderful to hear.
When I read, I think I am looking to hear something I hadn't expected to be said: most often in the way of the saying, but also in the gel of it. I want to have my cheeks ripped off my face simply by reading words. That might sound like an extreme, but I meant that: my face is the survivor of many hundreds of face-scrapings by those words that get into the flesh. As a more general and palpably applicable guideline, I look for sentences that seem cut out of sleep cloth: that operate on logic not necessarily of the supposed 'everyday' as defined by traditional narrative fiction and verse, but in the translucent and bizarre fabric of how most days seem, in sleeping and outside it, indescribable in tact and tone. Many of those texts that are supposedly documenting 'what it is to be human' or 'what is love' to me are as far gone as sitcom TV from what breathing and eating and walking around really feels like in skin, at least to me.
I also like to laugh, cringe, stutter, feel disoriented, wonder if I am not still sleeping, and even be left completely befuddled. If you can confused me in a way that feels incantatory, I consider that a win.
So you do not have problems seeking out these writers that make your face expand and wrap around your head? They just fall on your lap? On another note, you also seem to be active online with your blog (blakebutler.blogspot.com) and other blogs (html giant) plus you review for Book Slut, New Pages and others plus you are submitting your own work and have been published widely. I think your own poetry has appeared in more journals than Lyn Lifshin's. Would you say that to be successful as a publisher/editor/writer online that you need to have an enourmous amount of inspired energy or just possibly be a little on the manic side? In some areas you remind me of someone I know. Please expand on this.
For me it is pure mania. An obsession, like an enormous real-life video game. In 2006, I sent so much work out that I filled something like 12 pages of a word document in 10 point font with one submission note per line. Now my obsession has kind of floated off of the submissions end and even deeper into the writing den of it which is where it feels much better, but I still try to keep sending it out there as much as I can bring myself to do.
Since I freelance, most days I get to write at least 5-6 hours, or at least I am in front of the computer thinking about writing. Last year, I wrote 3 book-length manuscripts (one of which, EVER, just came out from Calamari Press (calamaripress.com) which I am super excited about), as well as many shorter texts. A lot of the other writers I know who have been supremely successful in the past year also have this mania for creation, and I think largely it just comes in the blood. It's an obsessive act, like running, or like paying close attention to what you put in your body. And most of the time, in these ends, you get back what you put into it. So I try to put it more and more every day.
If I didn't write, I would probably sleep a lot better, as even when I am in bed I am thinking about some aspect of writing: sentences, words I'm reading, submissions-end junk, and so on. I don't think it ever fully leaves my mind. Though maybe if I didn't write I wouldn't sleep at all. I would walk around all hours with the terror yadda coming out of my flesh in white foam. I'll take the writing.
Blake you were born in 1979. Were your parents hanging out at the Disco? Are you a disco baby Blake?
I'm pretty sure I'm not a disco baby. My mom is on the live recording of Arlo Guthrie's 'Alice's Restaurant,' but I don't think she was a hippie. She likes Kenny Rogers and Bob Dylan. My dad makes up his own atonal songs, which the dog never barks at but just keeps staring in want of human food. Both of my parents sometimes mention how before they had kids they did things.
Before we wrap this up do you have a question for me or would you like to answer a question that I did not ask?
I would like to point people toward a few new small press books: Lara Glenum's Maximum Gaga just came out from Action Books and is the newest new. Eat it. Rauan Klassnik's Holy Land spun my head in axe light. Derek White's Marsupial is crawdad noir and no one can tell you otherwise. Brian Evenson's Last Days is delicious terror.
Another answer to a question you did not ask: wholly susurrated and with a large neon doilly made of giraffe spit.
Poems published in O&S 2008: